IF I HAD ONLY

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,

The saddest are these,

It might have been.

from: Maud Muller by John Greenleaf Whittier

When was the last time that you proclaimed to yourself : “If I had only! If I had only done this ! Only done that !

I’ve tried to make a habit of never saying that, but when you think about it, it is a sentiment that applies to a whole lot of life. We humans have a never-ending capacity to second guess ourselves.

It is the proverbial question. What if I’d gone to this college and not that one ? What if the Old Man had never farmed ? What if I’d married that woman and the one that became my wife ? (Easy one there !)

What if ? What if ? What if ? Sounds like the stuff of a country song ! In fact, I was nearly prompted to write one while driving one day from our farm in Bell Buckle, Tennessee down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

What’s that you say ? Who’s the hick who’s writing this?

Well, if you’ve never been to Muscle Shoals, then study up . American music has a significant history here. Blues, Rock n’ Roll, Country… they all have stars who needed a “working vacation” at Rick Hall’s Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

In fact, the immediate recognition automatic with fame and stardom is just what musicians were trying to get away from when they recorded in this non-descript building in Muscle Shoals, this remote location that is Muscle Shoals.

Truth be told, some stars would not have been recognized anyway, in Alabama. Nonetheless, the environment was a bit easier for Mick Jagger or Aretha Franklin when they recorded here.

What if, though, what if I had made a right on that windy road instead of a left ? No Muscle Shoals that day.

It would have been just another sleepy, dusty, Delta day. If you recognize a lyric there, then you might realize that I’m talking about the road to Tallahatchie, Mississippi.

To where ? Well, yes, I wanted to see just where Billy Joe McAllister jumped . Surely there’ll be somebody there just waiting to show me !

Don’t believe me ? There was a time when I showed up at Teddy’s bridge up there in Chappaquidick. An old duffer was leaning on the rail, just waiting to tell me the whole story.

These stories seem to take on a life of their own !

Maybe the fellow leaning on the rail at Tallahatchie can tell me exactly what it was that Bobbie and Billy Joe threw off that bridge.

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